Updated: Feb 22
It is very common for people to think that if you want to be strong you shouldn’t stretch or if you want to be flexible you shouldn't do strength work. This couldn't be further from the truth. The two actually work together to create mobility, strength, and stability through an optimal range of motion. Sure, if you stretch with zero strength work, you will probably lose strength. If you do strength with zero stretching, you will probably lose your range of motion.
The goal should lie in the middle: increase flexibility and strengthen those new found ranges of motion to build a stronger, more powerful body.
I know you might think it’s crazy to think that stretching can help you in your pursuit to be strong, but it's true. I really like how Ben Patrick (@KneesOverToesGuy on Instagram) framed it on a recent Joe Rogan podcast. He likes to think of stretching as a way of unlocking the ability to train muscle that you may not be able to tap into if you are not flexible enough. He actually credits his ability to dunk after multiple knee surgeries to his increase in flexibility and strengthening those new ranges.
Who would have thought? I can remember being told you don’t want to stretch because you won’t be able to jump as high or run as fast. HA! Ben does the opposite and now is “the most dangerous guy on the court” as he puts it. Some of the research actually shows improvement in vertical jump height after dynamic stretching.
Science has been able to back this up for a while now, but it’s just now coming to the forefront for a lot of people.
The American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation says static flexibility has been shown to improve joint range of motion, and dynamic flexibility may enhance power and improve sports specific performance.
They do mention that static stretching before a workout may impair performance, so this does let us know that we probably want to spend more time doing dynamic warm ups prior to lifting and save the static stretching for post workout & rest days.
All this to say-- Don’t neglect strength work & don’t neglect flexibility work.